Saturday, December 4

Auctioned for 6.6 million euros the skeleton of ‘Big John’, the largest triceratops discovered to date


The eight-meter-long and nearly three-meter-tall skeleton was discovered in 2014 in South Dakota and has been purchased by an anonymous American collector.

Triceratops auction, this Thursday in Par
Triceratops auction, this Thursday in Paris.IAN LANGSDONEFE
  • Findings They find in Teruel the spine of a dinosaur of more than 25 meters

The skeleton of largest specimen of triceratops discovered so far, that I lived about 66 million years ago in what is now the northern United States, was awarded this Thursday at the auction house Drouot of Pars by 6,651 million euros ($ 7.6 million).

The buyer is “an American collector” that he does not want his name to be made public, sources of the sale explained to Efe, who emphasized that the triceratops return to the country from which it came.

Alexandre giquello, the commissioner organizing the auction, and his team, had set a starting estimate of between 1.2 and 1.5 million of euros. But as the commissioner had told Efe, his hope was that the final price would widely exceed that range.

That copy of one of the last species of dinosaurs Before its extinction, in the Cretaceous, it was put up for sale in a new edition of what Drouot calls Naturalia, an auction that for five years has been dedicated to natural curiosities that offer spectacular and aesthetic at the same time.

It’s triceratops, baptized Big John, was discovered in 2014 by Walter Stein, a specialized researcher, at a site in an area known as Hell Creek, in the State of South Dakota.

The excavation campaigns continued into the following year and allowed reconstitute 60% of the skeleton In a meticulous work that was carried out later and during six months in Italy, the expert in paleontology Iacopo Briano explained to Efe.

The assembly of the different fragments with resin and their consolidation in the laboratory by means of a metallic structure with the missing bones allowed the skeleton of eight meters long and just under three meters high.

Briano acknowledged that it is difficult to accurately estimate the actual weight of the animal, but in any case they were “several tons, like a great pachyderm”.

What has been determined is that its size was “between 5% and 10% larger” than the largest specimen of triceratops known so far.


The researchers found two wounds that were made in fights with other dinosaurs -probably for the defense of the territory or for their sexual reproduction-, one in the tail and, above all, another in the head that caused a gap of about 30 centimeters in a bone.

A paleo-pathology team that carried out a macroscopic and microscopic study concluded that this perforation was made by the skull of another triceratops. Neither wound was fatal and there are signs that the bone was healing.

Big John, this Thursday at the auction house.
Big John, this Thursday at the auction house.FRANCOIS MORIAP

In fact, given the large size of Big John it is considered that the animal must be quite mature and, according to Briano, “he could have simply died of old age”.

Giquello emphasized that they never put up for public sale specimens that have a particular interest for research so as not to create competition with museums. In this case, he recalled that the triceratops is such a well-known dinosaur that this specimen offered limited appeal to scientists.

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